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£15m GCR reunification plan announced

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by railway, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    First an observation that no matter how polite and how much regret is expressed, volunteers on a line, any line, have a tendency to reply in a most obnoxious manner to opinions expressed in these threads and then wonder why it is that non-volunteer enthusiasts - such as myself, have no desire whatsoever to volunteer.

    I have already said that I am pleased to find that my impression that there was little or no progress on the Swithland signalling project was wrong but I also think that the railway would be better off if it publicised progress. Simply placing the house mag in a bookshop really doesn't do the biz; railways need to look outwards, towards their customers, not inwards, towards themselves.

    I don't accept that the railway needs a sponsor to complete the double track project. If the railway had the will to do it, then it could do it, but gradually, a few hundred yards each year. The GCR has a culture of needing lots of money up front before it will do anything; in that it's a bit like the big railway, the railway it seems to want to emulate in other ways too. That culture needs to change. It can do a lot without sponsorship, from its own resources; just a bit at time - a bite here a bite there.

    Regards
     
  2. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    Interesting that however polite and well-thought out my post was it is still regarded as 'obnoxious', just as Tom's was 'patronising'. I've read and re-read them both carefully and I completely fail to see how you came to those conclusions.

    I'm pleased that you're pleased that we're making progress, it is nice to know that one's efforts are appreciated. I agree we could probably publicise our activities better; the weekly loco shed report in the newsletter is done by a volunteer and I daresay the same could be arranged from other departments, but only if someone was prepared to write them. I can't think of anyone at present who has both the time and inclination to do this, so we're stuck with just 'Main Line' for the moment.

    The 'plain line' bit of the double track probably could be built as you describe, but that's the easy bit. We need to develop the Leicester end with whatever the final track layout will look like, including installation of signalling from pretty much nothing, and we need to totally alter the south end of Rothley. That's probably at least 10 years work, using volunteer S&T and a paid P.W. staff of about 4 (who also have 13 miles of running lines to maintain, and lose a lot of track access to mid-week running, test trains and so on, and get called upon to do a lot of stock movements and shunting too, usually either side of galas, of which there are a lot these days). Laying the 'plain line' in-between is probably no more than 10% of the total effort required, for all the fact that it's the bit people will really notice.

    It's not a case of needing lots of money to get started either, it's a case of needing to focus limited resources (staff & volunteers) where they are needed. And at the moment, they are needed at Swithland - and next, it sounds like they might be needed north of Loughborough, if the funding materialises.

    Don't get me wrong, I hope it happens, but some years ago we were accused of trying to do too many things at once. We can't really win, can we?

    Phil
     
  3. Kempenfelt 82e

    Kempenfelt 82e New Member

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    Phil,

    Thankyou for your imput on this thread, it's always nice to hear from someone closely involved and who knows a lot of the facts!

    I must confess that Swithland is probably my favourite spot on any preserved railway at the moment, the combination of double track main line, avoiding loops, the new junction, signalling and plenty of wagons is truely magical. I was ever old enough to remember steam as it was, barely remembering the Intercity days, however this is the one location that makes me really feel like going back in time to the 50's/60's.

    I've seen the work going on at Swithland close up and although my last visit was over 12 months ago, the progress that has been made was very impressive and I very much look forward to my next visit! I agree with the previous posters that a regular update would be very welcome. I appreciate that it is hard to find someone to take on a task like this, but even a quarterly online update would be better than none. Prehaps the updates published in the railways mag could be added to the GCR website, obviously with the neccessary delay so that supporters find out first?

    With regards to the double track to Leic North, surely one of the reasons for not puting this to the top of the list is due to the fact that this section is unlikely to benefit that much to the railway? I would have thought that the benefit of double track, operationally at least, is best experienced in the middle of the line? It's not worth having double track at the ends when it would only mean that you would spend less time at the terminal stations. I would like to see double track extended one day, however I would much rather see Swithland completed and the push to bridge the gap!

    So to conclude I for one am more than happy for you to continue the developement of the line in its current direction and if more regular updates could be provided they would be gratefully recieved.

    Best Wishes

    Paul
     
  4. TonyMay

    TonyMay New Member

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    The signalling at Swithland is making progress at a decent but steady pace as resources allow. It clearly isn't as high priority job like the Loughborough Canopy refurbishment scheme is, though nice, it's not essential to the operation of the railway. But if it there was a quick and easy fix then it wouldn't be any fun would it?

    Meanwhile, I'm sure that the signalling for the Gap is going to be a different kind of challenge.
     
  5. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    But it would be of benefit. At present our gala timetables are mainly constrained by the ability to turn trains around at the Leicester end. The Rothley-Leicester single track section can just about accommodate one train every 40 minutes or so, with little time for recovery if things run late. In practice we manage two per hour on a normal weekend, but the second is a light engine "driver experience" run which doesn't need to run round. That's about the limit. At galas, 'extras' only run to Rothley as they can reverse there (provided there is a spare loco in the sidings) while another train is up at Leicester.

    Put double track in to Leicester and presuming that you had two platforms available, you could probably run one every 10-15 minutes over the whole line!

    However, it's still a lot of work for a timetable that we'd probably only run for about 5 weekends a year.

    Phil
     
  6. Christopher125

    Christopher125 Member

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    ..and argubaly wouldnt lead to any real increase in revenue anyway. From a commercial viewpoint the 'Gap' makes a lot more financial sense - the mainline connection alone would open up a variety of new revenue sources, especially freight - after all, along with the current Gypsum trains and soon Weardale coal trains, Lafarge stone should soon appear on MCR's Stoke-Cauldon Lowe line, taking lorries off unsuitable roads either onto the mainline or to a suitable location with road access. Its not pie-in-the-sky at all.

    Chris
     
  7. dace83

    dace83 New Member

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    I took my first trip on the line today along with my parents, I thank the GCR for a excellent and good value day out. I also saw the GUC bridge at loughborough, is there a restoration date for it?
     
  8. Ianb47306

    Ianb47306 New Member

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    I think the latter part of the quote there sums things up. Personally I'd say the timetable at present isn't bad really - it caters for most people's needs pretty well...non stop expresses, locals from loughborough to rothley and freights for the photographers. I think trains every 10 -15 minutes may be a little excessive at the current time. Photographers (including myself) would be delighted by that prospect, but I think you'd actually struggle to fill seats on trains if they were run that frequently (assuming the extra capacity was just used by passenger services). At the present time I would say that car parking is a little limited given the size of the line as an attraction and even if everyone brings 5 people per car, by the time those people were spread out across the various stations, shed's etc... I think you would find the trains themselves would be less densley packed than at present. Given the funding and an available work force, if you were available to create more car parking space the idea could work to generate more passengers and keep trains full.

    If a frequency such as that was used for freights, driver experience, t.p.o's and other non passenger runs too you could actually find the timetable very soon fills up but non of these would be necessarily generating much revenue as such. If these trains were more frequent, I would probably be more likely to get a lineside photographers pass. Also if the double track to Leicester meant shorter turn round times at the south end this may also be another attraction as it ought to allow more mileage to be covered during the day, but who knows how the timetable will be shook up in the future when everything comes to fruition.

    I really enjoy all the visits I make to the GCR and it is great to hear of the progress there, please keep posting the updates as and when time allows. I for one do read the weekly updates off the website and I can see the logic in members from other departments contribuiting to this but we must all remember that a) this means someone needs to find the time to update people, and b) when somebody's busy keeping all of us updated they could be busy working down at Swithland and getting on with more important work! Besides, if everythings posted somewhere on the internet what would be the incentive to buy the mainline mag! They've got to earn money some way.

    Keep up the good work!
     
  9. Ianb47306

    Ianb47306 New Member

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    Showed my ignorance there abit! A quick check on google earth confirms the line that passes underneath the M1 just to the south of Tibshelf was indeed nothing to do with the GCR and it appears to have left the midland mainline somewhere near Westhouses.

    I now remember that the GC is certainly severed by the A617(?) road linking Chesterfield and the M1 at Heath but I am still a little lost as to where the GC went in that neck of the woods and I'm afraid I still do not know quite which bit of the M1 you refer to? I assume it cannot be where junction 29 is as I would have thought at that point the GC would have been heading towards Pilsey? Please feel free to correct my assumptions there and if anyone can point me in the direction of a good route map it'd be much appreciated. Google Earth is of little help in that neck of the woods as many of the Gc's former cuttings have been infilled.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    So, having got your double track to Leicester, where do you get all your coaches and crews to run this 15 minute service? By my calculation, you need five, if not six sets of coaches. OK, you could split the existing rakes into three coach locals if you had enough brakes but that is unlikely to please those that clamour for a double track main line.
     
  11. Ianb47306

    Ianb47306 New Member

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    That is a good point which I forgot to mention! That is partly where my thinking that some of the paths would be filled with non passenger services (i.e. freight/t.p.o's/driver experience etc) came from. I could see crews being an issue as you say and on top of that would there be enough loco's come to think of it? Maybe for the 60's galas the GC do so well, loco's would not be an issue as diesels and dmu's could help but for steam only I expect there could be a struggle. If I am correct the GC (and the various ggroups based there) have rather a lot of stock that still needs restoring - all the Gresley's at Rothley for example - they ought to help create at least one more train.
     
  12. dace83

    dace83 New Member

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  13. daveb

    daveb Member

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    Personally, I think that having the passenger trains less densely packed than they usually are at Gala events should be viewed as a priority. I'm sure that the current levels of overcrowding do nothing to endure the railway to the non-enthusiasts and family parties who turn up at Gala weekends (possibly without realising that there is an event on) and finds themselves having to stand in corridors or vestibules.

    Having said that, an extra rake doing full round trips would probably do it, as things currently stand, assuming that this was extra stock and not the existing capacity spread out a bit thinner.
     
  14. Tomnick

    Tomnick New Member

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    We can already run a service in excess of 4tph, typically with five or six sets (some of those non-passenger) over the Loughborough - Rothley section, turning something like two of every three back at Rothley Brook. That's constrained by the 9 minute section from Quorn to Rothley, plus typically a two minute station stop within the clearing point (plus any additional pathing time waiting for the single line). Swithland should improve that headway considerably: firstly by allowing a second train to leave Quorn whilst the first is standing in Rothley's up platform, and secondly by allowing a Rothley turnback to arrive at the Brook a mere two or three minutes behind an Up Leicester train (having been recessed at Swith) rather than in excess of 10 minutes at present - thus making better use of the capacity on the single line at Rothley Brook.
     
  15. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    The platforms are only about 6 coaches long (some a little longer) so say 6 rakes of 6, that's 36. We have more Mk.1s than that before we even start looking at Gresleys, DMUs and so on. Granted some haven't run for decades and one or two maybe never will, but they exist, all the same. OK, so that's another bottomless money pit we need to fund... ;-)

    I wasn't suggesting a 15 minute passenger service was ever likely anyway. But on a gala when you're running TPOs, freights and the like, you'd slot them into what would otherwise be gaps in the timetable. We've had as many as 3 different freight rakes out simultaneously before (there were two freights plus TPO at the last gala) so I'm sure we could cobble something together.

    Crews are indeed a problem - actually I think guards are the bigger problem at the moment. Too few volunteers doing too many things each. Same as everywhere, I suppose.

    Phil
     
  16. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    A good point, and one I know the GCR are trying to address by sourcing additional coaches. The problem is the ones which tend to be for sale tend to need a lot of time/effort/money spending on them before they can run. But we've added 5 or 6 to the fleet in the last 18 months or so, though only one of them in traffic so far (the second bar car in the 'Pullman' set).

    Phil
     
  17. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    From today's BBC News:
    "Overcrowding on trains in England and Wales will get substantially worse over the next four years despite rises in ticket prices, a report by MPs says.

    The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the Department for Transport's own plans suggested targets for increasing passenger places would be missed.

    It blamed the failure on the absence of any requirement to improve capacity within train operators' contracts.

    The government said plans to improve the situation would be unveiled soon.

    Chairwoman of the PAC Margaret Hodge said MPs were concerned that the "already unacceptable levels of overcrowding will simply get worse and ever more intolerable".

    Her report - Increasing Passenger Rail Capacity - said the fundamental problem was a lack of any incentive for the industry to supply extra capacity without additional taxpayer support.

    Under their franchise agreements, train operators are required to use "reasonable endeavours" to give peak passengers "a reasonable expectation of a seat within 20 minutes of boarding", but there is no legal burden upon them to expand fleets or improve stations to achieve this.

    Instead, the PAC said, it had fallen to the taxpayer to provide funds to Network Rail to carry out any upgrade work."

    I'm not sure how crowded all the trains are from Leicester to Nottingham on the current ex-MR line but perhaps now is the time for the GCR to really push its argument for reinstatement of at least some of the original GCR from the Southern bank of the Trent at Nottingham to Leicester North (and after that who knows?). Of course the new GCR would use modern stock as well as heritage traction and coaches but, long term, that might be the only way ahead. Railways were not built for enthusiasts but to make money and it seems like there's going to be a lot of punters wanting to spend it.
     
  18. dace83

    dace83 New Member

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    I really don't think The GCR has any potention for much passenger trade as a proper mainline, freight yes but passengers no. The MML is the most convenient.
     
  19. Tomnick

    Tomnick New Member

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    Trains on the Midland aren't horrendously overcrowded, and any particularly busy ones in the peaks will likely be loaded largely with punters travelling through to London (or, on Sundays, loaded with students travelling quite long distances to get back to uni - so again, not much potential for the GCR there!). Not sure that local traffic would justify a regular passenger service on its own - although the potential for freight might mean that signalboxes are open continuously, we'd still need to source traincrew for regular early starts and late finishes, so volunteer staff would probably not be a serious option.
     
  20. Joe Petroni

    Joe Petroni New Member

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